French International School of Philadelphia

The French International School of Philadelphia (French: 'École française internationale de Philadelphie', EFIP) is a French international school in Bala Cynwyd, Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania within the Delaware Valley.[1][2] As of 1993 it is the only full French bilingual educational program in Pennsylvania.[3] It serves grades PreK-8.


The school established its bylaws on January 22, 1991, and it opened in September of that year.[4] At the time the school was established, the French expatriate population of Philadelphia was increasing. At the time, 47 French companies had operations in the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia honorary consul for France, Stanhope S. Browne, and the general consul of France, Jean-Yves Defay, stated that they estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 French people lived in the Philadelphia area. In addition some American families had concerns about education in American schools. The French expats worked with locals for five months to have the school established.[5]

Originally the school occupied a leased second floor wing of the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr. There were 13 students, with the oldest at 7 years and the youngest at 2 1/2 years. Because younger children can more easily learn languages, the school initially opened with only the maternelle grades. The school's principal, Josette J. Smith, stated in 1991 that "A private-school education in France is probably much more conservative than education in public schools. And our school is a private school, but it is modeled on public education in France."[6]

The school planned to add the third grade in September 1992.[7] Because the first facility was unable to give more space, the school moved into a facility of the Shipley School, the just-vacated Beechwood house, in 1993.[3]

Student body

As of 2014 the school has 320 students, with about 33% being French, 33% being American, and 33% from international and/or bilingual families.[8] In 1992 Josette Smith stated that many students were children of French business executives assigned to work in the Philadelphia area.[7]

See also


  1. "Home." French International School of Philadelphia. Retrieved on May 14, 2014. "150 North Highland Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004"
  2. "Community Profile." Lower Merion Township. Retrieved on April 30, 2014. (contains maps of Lower Merion).
  3. 1 2 Hellberg, Joyce Vottima. "French School Gets Larger Quarters The Philadelphia School Has Moved Into The Historic Beechwood House." Philadelphia Inquirer. August 3, 1993. Retrieved on May 14, 2014.
  4. "About Us" (Archive). French International School of Philadelphia. Retrieved on May 14, 2014.
  5. Woodall, Martha. "Enfin! Phila. Area To Get French School." Philadelphia Inquirer. March 25, 1991. Retrieved on May 14, 2014.
  6. Woodall, Martha. "Rigorous Study Is De Rigueur." Philadelphia Inquirer. September 16, 1991. Retrieved on May 15, 2014.
  7. 1 2 Hellberg, Joyce Vottima. "Sparking A Flair For French." Philadelphia Inquirer. June 4, 1992. Retrieved on May 15, 2014.
  8. "Our Students." French International School of Philadelphia. Retrieved on May 14, 2014.

External links

Coordinates: 40°00′07″N 75°14′19″W / 40.00197°N 75.23866°W / 40.00197; -75.23866

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